Flights to Austin (AUS)

Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Rosie Flores, Townes Van Zandt. Those celebrated country, rock and blues musicians from Austin are just a few of the reasons this Central Texas city is called the Live Music Capital of the World.

It’s also home base for the longest running concert television program, “Austin City Limits,” which launched in 1974 and spawned the Austin City Limits Music Festival held in October. It is one of Austin’s many music festivals, the biggest one being SXSW. What started in 1987 as a multi-venue music showcase of up-and-coming bands from around the country has morphed into a multi-headed beast of music festival, film festival, and interactive conference exploring the latest in digital innovations. It’s held in March.

Although it might seem like it, music isn’t the only game in town. As the state capital, Austin is the seat of political power for Texas. It is also the home to the University of Texas.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) has two terminals. The main terminal is called the Barbara Jordan Terminal, and it has 25 gates serving a variety of national and international airlines, including Delta Air Lines. There are plenty of shops for picking up last-minute souvenirs or comfort items for your flight. And just in case you didn’t get your fill of Texas-style barbecue or Tex-Mex cuisine, there are several restaurant options.

True to form for this music-loving town, the airport hosts live musical performances by local bands and solo acts to entertain travelers. For their visual pleasure, public art works are on display throughout the airport.

A second terminal called the Southern Terminal is located an eight-mile drive away. It serves three regional airlines. The small terminal doesn’t have any shops or restaurants, but travelers grab-and-go food is available, as well as a food truck service with patio seating.

You haven’t really experienced Austin until you’ve heard some live music. Luckily it’s not hard to do. There are several entertainment districts offering all kinds of options. Tourists tend to flock to the music venues and nightclubs along Sixth Street, while locals hangout in South Congress south of Lady Bird Lake. There’s also Red River, a three-block area thick with nightclubs, and Rainey Street, a strip of former residences turned bars.

With 300 days of sunshine a year, Austin is one of the best cities in the country for golfing, so says Golf magazine. There are more than two dozen golf courses in the area, some designed by celebrated golf designers Tom Fazio and Robert Trent Jones. 

Nature lovers will want to gather in the amphitheater at the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk between April and October to witness a stunning natural phenomenon when up to 1.5 million bats take flight for their nightly feed. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, explore more than 800 species of local plants, the butterfly garden, woodland space, water gardens and a 16-acre arboretum.

Immerse yourself in the arts and culture of the region by visiting Mexic-Arte Museum of contemporary Mexican and Latin American art; Texas Music Museum; Blanton Museum of Art, home of modern and contemporary American and Latin American work, Italian Renaissance and Baroque paintings; and Bee Cave Sculpture Park, seven acres of permanent and rotating installations including a children’s play area and spring-fed pond.

Food is a big part of the culture in Austin, with an emphasis on barbecue and Tex-Mex cuisine. Restaurants tend toward the casual and funky. Popular spots include Contigo, an outdoor beer garden with a ranch-inspired menu heavy on the meat; Mi Madre, a funky, colorful spot for Tex-Mex; Franklin BBQ, where the wait can stretch for hours on the weekends; and Eastside Café, serving creative farm-to-table cuisine since 1988.

Austin is the land of long, hot summers and short, mild winters. Temperatures hover in the 80s and 90s from April to October. It’s the hottest in August, when the highs average 97 degrees. Low temperatures bottom out around the low 40s from December through February, reaching an average low of 42 in January. An estimated 34 inches of rain fall a year on average, with May and June being the wettest months.

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